"It is just when you are weakest (or the most tired in your case) that God can use you most."
-Megan "Nutmeg" Wilson
"A word to the wise ain't necessary - it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
-Bill Cosby, texted to me by Ericka Warren
Whew! What a day! Wind, wind wind and more wind. There were times today when I just wanted to stop and yell "WIND STOP!" as loud as I could. I even considered lying in the middle of the road and offering myself as a sacrifice to the god of the eighteen wheelers. Common sense prevailed and I came to my senses so I just pedaled into the wind.
Our plans were to pedal ninety miles into Cooperstown but we made only sixty-six. We are staying at the Westside Motel (unit 4) in Cooperstown this evening and will return to today's stopping point in the morning to resume our ride. Maybe the wind will be more considerate tomorrow and my thoughts more sane.
We have become watchers of flags and windsocks. They are the best indicators of wind direction. Today they were blowing the opposite direction of our ride. That's not good. Some of the time we could only pedal five to seven miles per hour. We did manage, right after a turn to the south, to get a little tailwind for about thirteen miles but that was it. During that time we could do seventeen and eighteen miles per hour without even trying hard. The wind certainly makes a big difference and can change plans in the blink of an eye!
To make the day somewhat easier I started thinking about rules I am using as I ride across the U.S.A. I was thinking about doing ten so I could use a cool title such as "The Ten Commandments of Cross-country Cycling" but I don't think I have that many. I'll see how many I get and then give the rules an appropriate title.
Rule No. 1 - Don't ride on windy days unless it's absolutely necessary and the wind is at your back! With a headwind you get tired very quickly and it's easier for dogs to catch you. Always have someone with you who rides slower than you because dogs usually get the last person! That brings me to the next rule.
Rule No. 2 - It's better to ride with friends. I have had some very good rides by myself but it's always good to ride with a friend or two. "Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better reward for their labor" (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
Rule No. 3 - Use common sense! I legally have the right to one lane of that highway. Vehicles coming behind me are required, by law, to pass me in another lane! I also have the right as an United States Air Force veteran to be buried in a national cemetery! Those are my rights. Common sense tells me if I'm not ready for "Taps" and a little American flag upon my grave that I'd be a whole lot safer, and smarter, riding on the shoulder as far right as possible. I do that! Drivers appreciate it and . . . no "Taps."
Rule No. 4 - What I do as a cyclist is a reflection of every other cyclist on the road. If I'm a jerk or do dumb stuff, it's going to make things worse for every other person who pedals a bike on the highways. Sure I can demand my rights, run stop signs, forget to signal, and make some folks mad. They'll pass by, blow the horn, maybe yell something like #%**@!*X, or even throw something at me . . . but what's going to happen when they get up the road and they're still in a rage, and they see another guy on a bike! They may do to him what they wished they had done to me! The way I ride will make riding easier or harder for the other guys.
Rule No. 5 - Don't miss what you're going through only to get where you're going to! I am always fascinated watching The Tour of France each July. Wow, Lance and those guys blitz through some of the most incredible scenery in Europe but do they ever really see it? Jonathan and I have our goals every day. Some days we make them, some days we don't. We do, however, still take time for photographs, snacks, breaks, and "Look over there!"
Rule No. 6 - Check your equipment every day. Check your tires, chain, pedals, extra tires and tubes, air pump, water bottles, snacks, and tools. Be prepared!
Rule No. 7 - Pedal smarter, not harder. That's why they put granny-gears on bikes. Use them for the big climbs and windy days. Forget being tough . . . be wise!
Rule No. 8 - Don't forget people. People will be the big memories of your ride.
Today we met Brandon in Harvey. He was just laid off from his job with the railroad and was going to take his hazardous materials exam that would allow him to apply for another job driving a truck. He pulled up and asked us where we were going. We told him and from there the discussion went to his love for anything with two wheels and the collection he has. He rides a mountain bike, doesn't need a road bike because he lives out in the country. Really friendly guy.
At a rest area outside of Sykeston we met a truck driver and talked about the wind (of course) and the unseasonal cool temperatures North Dakota was having. He is a member of an Evangelical Free Church in Fargo and two of his favorite teachers are Chuck Swindoll and John Maxwell. When we told him we were going to Cooperstown he told us that he had worked on a youth church camp over there. I didn't even get his name but I sure am glad there are men like that wheeling those big rigs down our highways.
Dan Webber called me today and had prayer with me and for me. He's not a new friend but his call and time in prayer will be one of the big memories of my ride.
I guess I only have "The Eight Commandments" but I know more will come as we travel. There are a lot more than ten anyway and most are more serious than some of mine. But rules are important. They've been around since, "Don't eat from that tree," to "Speed Limit 70." We've got them and always will. Some are good and some lack common sense but they're still rules.
The Jewish church leaders had over six hundred rules they enforced. When asked which of these was the most important, Jesus answered, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40).
The apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3b said, "Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself."
Wow, these are rules we can live by! Maybe they are a bit tougher than the six hundred because they cover the six hundred . . . and my eight biking commandments as well!